#cca0991 Novel Unit – Reading Log for “On the Road”

For an online English course that I’m helping to develop, I’m now taking the Student role to do some careful usability and functionality testing.

After many weeks of transforming course content from Word documents of in-class handouts to various file formats for the Moodle LMS, it’s so refreshing to walk slowly through the narrative of the course and absorb what it means – to “get into it” – and evaluate it from a learner’s point of view. I love this part…

For the Novel Unit of the online course “CCA English 12”, I’ve chosen to read “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. While I read it, I must keep a Reading Log of my observations of the characters and plot of the book.

 Chapter 1:

 About the Writer (Sal Paradise)

  • Maybe was coming off a depression after a bad breakup. Seems to be looking for others to bring him emotional relief, or to lift his spirits.
  • Has high-minded ideals; spiritual aspirations and a sense of the dramatic, but is also ground in a young person’s physicality (sex, desiring adventure)
  • Physical journey becomes a metaphor for spiritual journey (is Sal on the road to salvation or self-enlightenment?)

First Impressions on Style:

  • This book puts you in the head of the author, and in the rooms he inhabits with his friends, right away. There is not preamble, setup or establishing of time, history or geography. You are dumped into the moment of his experiences, and must fend for yourself.
  • It has the informal flow of spoken dialog – you can hear it in your head quite naturally, as if you are listening to someone rapping with a friend in a neighbourhood bar.

Dean Moriarty

  • Character get elevated, like a special person whose actions or words have special meaning. Sal seems to look up to him.

 Chapter 2:

Sal sets out

  • Hopes to meet his friend in San Francisco, hop and a freighter, and sail around the world on the cheap
  • A bad start, soaked to the skin, and has to backtrack and practically start from the beginning in New York!

 Chapter 3:

Sal sets out again – with better results

  • A long bus trip; lots of hitchhiking, and apple pie with ice cream (?)
  • Sal seems like a lens through which we observe the world; he starts to feel some depth in his journey, relating it to other places in history
  • He meets many people and learns their backgrounds too, and why they’re travelling on the same road as him


One thought on “#cca0991 Novel Unit – Reading Log for “On the Road””

  1. Hi Bilbo

    Looks like you are getting into the novel now. Why do you think Dean M is so special to the author. What does he stand for?


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